“If you have a good vision of why you are doing what you are doing, women will come”
Joanne Hill is extremely humble when it comes to being the powerhouse behind the Northam Women in Business group. Northam Women in Business is a network of women supporting other women in their business community while trying to unite with the common goal of growing the success of our businesses.
After Jo and her husband sold their farm they bought the local Sportspower and ran it for over 12 years. During this time, many businesses were struggling across the region. “Women-owned the majority of the businesses (In Northam), and I thought that we should be able to get together and share our experiences”. After being inspired by hard working local business women, Jo approached some business owners and had 17 women attend their first breakfast meeting. “This is when I knew we had something going on here!” Which is where the Northam Women in Business Network began.
Jo wanted to give the women of Northam in business the opportunity to voice their concerns and speak about their companies so they can build their business, and gain networks & support while building the community up. “I encourage two of our members to speak about their business and what they have been able to achieve at each of our meetings”. This also encouraged Jo to introduce and give the women a chance to speak and motivate each other through speaking in public, cross-promoting and providing them with the opportunity to flourish.
The Northam Community encouraged the group with businesses wanting to join. Initially, the group only had the intention of supporting Brick and Mortar. But, with the rise of covid, “We’ve probably got more businesses running out of people’s homes than we do working in Brick and Mortar now”. The group is actively thriving and welcomes women in management and senior roles to join the supportive group. Jo credits this to the women of the Network, who are always motivated and excited for new activations and events and have seen the success in supporting one another.
After selling their business, Jo stepped down from her responsibilities working with the group as closely as she had previously had, feeling a sense of imposter syndrome as she no longer had her own business. She felt it was the right thing to do. After a few committee changes, Jo was asked to come back and be the president again. “I felt honoured to be back, and I put 110% into it”. Crediting her executive committee for supporting her and the Network along the way.
The Network is currently working on getting themselves out there again after the COVID hiatus, and unfortunately, they have decided to postpone and delay a few events to be able to provide their membership and Network with value. Jo’s advice for women in the regions wanting to collaborate is, “If you have a good vision of why you are doing what you are doing, women will come”. Jo also credits her ability to physically get out into her community and have a conversation or a coffee with another woman in business. “It makes a massive difference compared to an email or a phone call”. Encouraging women to seek out opportunities in the regions is something the Network encourages young women to start their own business, hosting a grant for $5000 to try and give them opportunities to grow their own business.
For Jo, her heart is in small business. After their ten year plan, they sold Sportspower Jo has continued to navigate her career, currently working for WA Country Health. This fast-paced job keeps her busy and has made her appreciate how much she loved working for herself and the opportunity to work for herself again in the future. Jo knows what she wants to do, and she is just waiting for the right time and for the right establishment!